After three-and-a-half-days of intense battle, it was hosts England who edged out India in the opening Test by 31 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match Test series. England Vs India 2018 1st Test match swayed from one team to the other. In the end, the hosts held onto their nerves and sealed a sensational victory.
The Indian batters barring a confident Virat Kohli was not up to the mark as they kept giving away their wickets in a deplorable fashion. However, it was Ravichandran Ashwin, who defended the batters on a difficult-looking surface.
Ahead of the fourth day’s play, India needed 84 more runs to win with five wickets in hand. With Kohli and Dinesh Karthik at the crease, India would have backed themselves to chase the total down. Karthik fell early, but it was a good partnership between Kohli and Hardik Pandya which again got India back into the game.
However, the wicket of Virat Kohli proved to be the turning point as Ben Stokes dismissed him.
Meanwhile, despite the mediocre performance from the other batters of the Indian team, spin ace Ashwin defended them. He stated that it was not only the Indian batters who were troubled but the host batters were regularly put under pressure. Ashwin felt it was a pretty tricky pitch to bat on.
England vs India 2018 1st Test: Ravichandran Ashwin felt taking wickets always put the opposition on the backfoot
“When you make runs and pick up wickets, you want to make sure that it is a killer blow (to the opposition) and you want to end up on the winning side. It gives you more pleasure out of the game, and when it doesn’t happen, you feel a little deflated about it. This game was like a see-saw battle, and there was enough in there for the pacers,” said Ashwin in the post-match media interaction.
“So they were always in the game, and you do expect batsmen to get a ball that has their name on it. With that sort of a game hedging, I thought we competed well throughout. There are a lot of things to be upbeat about, so (I am) not completely feeling deflated,” Ashwin remarked.
“It was quite a tough pitch to bat on. I don’t think batsmen from both sides were able to make runs with a lot of freedom barring the partnership between Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the first innings, and then Virat Kohli from our side. It has been quite a struggle that way, so I think we need to give batsmen some space,” he said.
“This was a game where we would have liked to finish on the winning side. No doubt about it. But there are a lot of things we can feel proud of at the end of this game. It’s a long test series so to feel defeated or pained so early on in the series is unfair,” he added.
Virat Kohli was the star performer for India:
Kohli scored a magnificent 149 in the first innings which kept India in the game. Hardik Pandya scored 31 while Virat scored 51. Before the start of the day’s play, Ashwin had felt that the noses were slightly in favour of the visitors.
“When Virat and Dinesh (Karthik) walked out I genuinely believed we had the aces in our hands. And that wicket the first blow was quite crucial. Our talk in the morning was about trying to stick together and be behind every one that walks out to bat. I thought we did pretty well, and even when Umesh (Yadav) was batting, our hopes were alive,” he remarked.
Ravichandran Ashwin was hopeful of an Indian victory:
“We did think that if Hardik could lay his hands on a couple of big shots, we were in the game. I have been on tours since 2011 and that way this team has got a positive vibe in terms of at least believing that we can pull it off from any stage. We have done it in the past, particularly in the last three or four away tours that we have been on. (But) If you have to win a Test series in England, that too a five-Test series, we will have to pull off something special at some stage,” he said.
The Indian bowlers have been quite fantastic in all their last four away Tests. They have set up the victory for the batters, but they haven’t been able to pounce on to the chances. It was pretty sad to see India’s talented top and middle order crumble like that. Cheteshwar Pujara might well turn out to be a solution in the second encounter at Lord’s.
Ashwin was the leader of the pack as he bagged seven wickets all through the match. He was quite impressive, and even the rest of the bowlers were quite spectacular.
England Vs India 2018 1st Test: Ravichandran Ashwin feels there were quite a few personal learnings –
“Personally there were quite a few learnings (sic) from my stint last year here. Not just in terms of pure skill but also how the game is being read here, how players go about their business concerning pacing out their innings, how much the Duke’s ball does in the first 40 overs, etc. Those are the learnings (sic) I had and as a spinner I feel the ball is definitely different to Kookaburra and SG,” Ashwin observed.
“I think Duke’s is number one, Kookaburra is second, and SG is number three on the list (of spinner’s preference) where it stands today. And how wide my grip can be, how close I can get to it as the ball moves on and I felt like the ball was also slipping when I came last time for Worcester. So that was also in my mind when I came this time,” Ashwin further added.
The spin ace had put himself under a lot of pressure earlier. He wanted to perform desperately. Here he stated that the carefree nature helped during England Vs India 2018 1st Test.
“I have just decided to enjoy my cricket and stop reading about anything. I think that’s a good way to fire myself up. My personal experience in the last 59 Tests has been the same, and it is not going to be any different moving forward because as the game comes to an end, I find myself at the end of the same circle. And the circle moves back to the starting point. I will ideally keep myself at the same starting point to keep the circle going,”